Warts and Children | Health Eagle

Warts and Children

by Tom Seman MD FAAP June 21st, 2012 | Pediatrician on Call
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My four year-old has warts on his fingers.  First he had one; now there are three.  Should I be concerned?

Warts are an infection of the skin by the wart virus also known as the Human Papilloma Virus. It occurs when the virus comes in contact with a break in the skin. This infection can occur when some of the wart infected skin gets into a break in some other skin. They are spread when some of the skin from the wart is scratched off and adjacent healthy skin is also scratched. This allows the wart virus to infect the adjacent skin. Any condition that causes small cracks or scratches in the skin increases the risk of the infection. These can include nervous scratching, eczema, or dry skin from the cold.  Once the skin is infected, it may take months before a person will see the wart.

The wart looks like a small growth or lump that is skin colored or may have a dark center. Often due to the irritation that the wart creates, the tissue immediately surrounding the wart grows around it. These warts are typically not itchy or painful unless they occur in an area where the pressure placed on them is uncomfortable, such as a wart on the bottom of the foot.  These are called plantar’s warts, meaning the bottom of the foot which is known as the plantar surface of the foot.

Most warts will die on their own; however, the ” while” may be months to years, and during that time they can spread to other parts of the child’s body and even to other people. Thus it is often recommended to treat the warts to limit this possibility. There are multiple ways of treating warts, all of which deal with destroying the skin that is infected with the wart virus. This can include topical liquids that destroy the skin one layer at a time.

Other methods deal with destruction of the wart using acids that cause a greater amount of destruction, often inducing some blistering, or frozen liquid can be applied to freeze the cells thus destroying them. This can cause blistering, and both of these methods can be more uncomfortable or even somewhat painful compared with the topical creams or liquids. Furthermore,the warts can be surgically removed using either a modified scalpel or curettage or a laser. Both of these methods have a greater chance of causing scarring, so careful consideration of what treatment plan to use needs to take these facts into consideration.

Typically warts are most common in the teen years, although they can be seen at any time. It is said that everyone will have at least two warts in their lifetime. So the one wart turning to three is somewhat of an issue as is the fact that the child is young, which seems to indicates that the child has a tendency to spread the warts and thus should be taken care of.

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.